Five years ago, a missing northern California mom, Sherri Papini, emerged from the woods with an unusual account of her abduction, The Guardian reports. She told authorities that she was chained to a pole for three weeks, starved, beaten, branded and burned, and then released by the side of a busy highway. Part of her alibi included that her abductors were two Latina women, which coincided with Donald Trump's election and his rhetoric directed at Mexican and South American immigrants. The FBI concluded that she spent the 22 days at her ex-boyfriend's house and either inflicted the injuries on herself or had him do it for her. Now, Papini is charged with mail fraud and lying to the FBI. The FBI said, “We are confused by several aspects of the charges and hope to get clarification in the coming days.”
The Shasta County Sheriff's Department faced scrutiny during the disappearance for casting doubt on the abduction theory and warning against potential abduction scam artists. A friend of Papini even fabricated a scheme to offer $100,000 or more for her release, a scam known as a "reverse ransom". During her disappearance, her family raised $30,000 via GoFundMe, which they used to pay off credit card debt. The FBI has no plans to charge Papini's family members.